Amid uncertainty over the future of the Rugby Championship, South Africa have beaten Argentina 29-10 while the remainder of the southern hemisphere tournament was in limbo after New Zealand’s decision to cancel games in its country because of a new COVID-19 outbreak.
The Springboks’ two tries came early in the second half on Saturday at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium through wing Makazole Mapimpi and hooker Malcolm Marx, although the home team was already in control at 15-3 by the time Mapimpi crossed in the left corner for the first of the tries.
Flyhalf Handre Pollard had kicked five first-half penalties to give the Boks their ascendancy.
South Africa added the two converted tries in the second half but didn’t manage a try-scoring bonus point despite having dominance and another 30 minutes to get a third try.
“We pitched up like wanted to do. We knew Argentina would bring everything to us, but we stuck to our game-plan and because of that could build the scoreboard,” Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said.
“We should have converted the chances we had with the penalties in their 22, but we made mistakes and missed out on the bonus point. We will go back and follow our processes, recover tomorrow and then look forward.”
It was Argentina who had the final say when flanker Pablo Matera swivelled out of a tackle and crashed over five minutes after the full-time hooter had sounded.
That gave the Pumas their only try in two games in South Africa in the space of a week.
“Our discipline was very bad, especially in the first half and you can’t do that against South Africa because they will turn it into points,” Argentina captain Julian Montoya said.
“We finished with a try, but we did not do what we said we wanted to on attack. It was physical, but we have to start to attack on our own terms.”
South Africa won 32-12 at the same stadium seven days earlier in the first round of the Rugby Championship.
The world champion Springboks came off a series victory over the British and Irish Lions to make a winning start to the Rugby Championship but it’s unclear where they will go next.
Both the South Africa and Argentina squads were due to leave for Australasia on Sunday but those plans will likely be put on hold while tournament organisers SANZAAR decides where the remaining nine games of this year’s Rugby Championship will be played.
New Zealand were meant to travel to Australia to play the Wallabies in Perth in a round-two match next Saturday but have pulled out of that fixture and also cancelled their two home Tests against the Springboks in September and October after new virus cases put the country into lockdown.
South Africa has offered to host the rest of the tournament – if it gets permission from its government – although no fans are currently allowed at any sports events there. It is also still in a winter wave of virus cases and regularly recording more than 10,000 new infections daily.
However, there are no mandatory quarantine rules currently in place in South Africa for foreign visitors.
In another option, reports say Rugby Championship games might be held in Europe, where crowds could be allowed.